'Closing the digital gap' study visit report

  • knowledge society

Some 15 representatives from large European cities attended the study visit, which examined city initiatives designed to tackle digital exclusion in Bordeaux, Ghent, Rijeka, Sheffield and Utrecht.

The study visit, which took place in October 2014, was organised as part of our ‘mainstreaming social inclusion’ initiative. Linking ICT with social issues stems from the fact that vulnerable people may find themselves even more excluded if they are unable to use ICT tools to apply for benefits, housing, training and jobs. Programmes to combat poverty and social exclusion therefore increasingly need to take into account the digital divide.

The report features five projects that address the issue of tackling the digital divide. These were presented at the study visit, and are:

  • Bordeaux Digital Bus - which goes out to the city’s most deprived areas to provide access to ICT equipment and digital skills trainings.

  • Digikriebels - from Ghent which develops the e-skills of children, parents and grandparents.

  • ‘A society in which I am learning and feeling good’ - from Rijeka on access to ICT tools and skills for the elderly.

  • Sheffield Community Network - a project that helps to create and safeguard jobs in the city by supporting entrepreneurship with digital skills.

  • ‘Faster than I can handle’ - Utrecht’s approach to help vulnerable citizens keep up with technological developments.

The report concludes that city administrations are strategically well-placed to develop e-inclusion projects that address specific needs, especially since combating digital exclusion often requires tackling a range of different, interconnected challenges. The specific strength of local administrations lies in their ability to build and promote broad and innovative partnerships to match the expertise of various stakeholders with the different issues that need to be addressed.

Recognising the urban dimension of the challenge, and the pivotal role of the city in tackling digital exclusion when setting strategies and targeting funding, will help ensure coordinated policy and contribute to closing the digital gap in a more effective and efficient way.

You can read the full report at the link below.